Data analytics

Who's getting it done on open data?

While open data efforts are lauded by government officials, a recent study discovered that most Americans are unaware or underwhelmed.  Pew Research Center surveyed 3,212 citizens late last year to gauge their thoughts on the programs' efficacy.

Across all levels -- federal, state and local -- respondents were divided on how well they thought government shares data, with about 80 percent expressing lukewarm opinions of "somewhat effectively" and "not very effectively."

How effectively does the federal government share the data it collects with the general public?

Response Percent
Very effectively 5%
Somewhat effectively 39%
Not very effectively 39%
Not at all effectively 15%
No answer 1%

Local government got a better response, with 52 percent positive feedback. States followed with 49 positive feedback and the federal government trailed behind with 44 percent positive feedback on its data sharing efficacy.

Despite the fact that federal resources were perceived as the least effectively shared, more than 32 percent of respondents reported using either the Internet or an app to access information and data provided or enabled by government:

Percent of those who indicated having used government data by category of application

Moreover, the study found that governments have not been as successful in getting citizens to use online services as opposed to similar offline services, with the most frequent online use of government information being searching for government operated recreation facilities.

And while a slight majority of respondents believed greater transparency and data sharing will assist journalists, make officials more accountable and improve decision-making within government, they were uncertain whether open data efforts would improve the quality of government services and allow citizens to have more impact in public affairs.

Nevertheless, 50 percent of respondents believed open data had some role to play in the creation of new products and services in the private sector.

How much, if at all, do you think the data the government provides to the general public helps businesses create new products and services?

Response Percent
A Lot 9%
Somewhat 41%
Not much 27%
Not at all 7%
Don't know 15%
No answer 1%

About the Author

Jonathan Lutton is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him at

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